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Ganga Aarati Violation secular ideals…Gurumuthi’s forceful reaction to this allegation. From pvvg swamy

June 2, 2014

Subject: Ganga Aarati Violation secular ideals…A  forceful reaction to this allegation.

When Narendra Modi performed Ganga Aarati on his return to Varanasi to
thank the voters who had elected him, some “secular” intellectuals began
asking whether Modi’s Aarati was in tune with secular politics.

Given the drift in the Indian secular discourse, they might not have asked
this question if Modi had carried a chaddar to Ajmer Dargah—a ritual in

Ganga Aarati is a ritual which every believing Hindu going to the holy town
does. Modi, a believing Hindu, performed the Aarati which he was banned
from doing before the elections.

The Modi Aarati would have gone off as a private event had the media not
telecast the event live and had newspapers not written about it.

Assuming Narendra Modi did it so that the media is forced to cover it
because of its news value, is he at fault?  Had the media treated the event
as a personal and private religious act, no one would have seen Modi’s
Ganga Aarati.

On one side, the electronic media shows Modi performing Ganga Aarati for
competitive TRP rating and the print media publishes the news and photos of
the event for sales, and on the other debate starts on whether Modi’s act
of personal faith was secular!
The real question, therefore, is not whether it was proper for Modi to have
done Ganga Aarati but whether the “secular” media was right in telecasting
and publishing a private religious event and then turn around to debate
whether Modi’s Aarati was secular.

How does a permitted private religious act become forbidden because it is

Even earlier, during the campaign when, at Faizabad, Modi addressed a
public rally with Sri Rama’s picture and the Ayodhya temple forming the
backdrop, the “secularists” raised a hue and cry charging that it was a
religious appeal.

And the Election Commission even issued a show cause notice on the issue.  See
what happens when illiterates expound on secularism.

Everyone fell into silence when the BJP cited the great Urdu poet Allama
Iqbal, the author of the famous song “Sare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Hamara”,
who said that Rama was not possession of Hindus but equally an Imam of

The Indian secular discourse, forged as a vote-catching device, has always
become increasingly perverse. It is likely to intensify even after the
electorate massively voted and elected Modi.

Commenting on his victory, a newspaper said in a front-page edit that
symbolisms of Narendra Modi were an expression of the cultural nationalism
of the BJP which, it contended, was not consistent with secular polity.

Over years, there is a rising opinion in and outside politics that the
distorted meaning that secularism has acquired over decades needs to be
debated and corrected. The mainline media has so far swept this correct
view under the carpet and perpetuated the distortion.

Result, the Indian secularism is neither Indian in the sense of equal
protection to all faiths nor Western in the sense of equal repugnance to
all religions.

Now, Modi’s symbolism seems to have revived the debate which L K Advani so
powerfully initiated in the 1990s marking out genuine secularism from the
fake and the pseudo.  The monumental effort to have the idea of secularism
redefined in the Indian context got suspended after the NDA came to power.

But now with Narendra Modi the bete noire of the self-certifying
“secularists” leading the nation, the debate is being revived. Narendra
Modi had already set the stage and suggested the rules for the debate when
he held his Sadbhavana fasts in Gujarat last year.

His clarity on the issue of what is secularism was astounding.

When a Muslim from the audience gave him a skullcap—an Arabic symbol which
Indian Muslims have begun using in the last couple of decades as a mark of
their identity—Modi instinctively accepted it and put it, not on his head
as his secular colleagues in politics would have done, but in his pocket.
This reflex action could only have emanated from deeper clarity inside.

But his action became a huge issue. Modi was debated in media for days as
offending the minorities. Modi was questioned on it during the campaign.
His response was profound and exposed the hollowness of today’s secularism.

He said he follows his tradition but respects others’. If following others’
tradition is symbolic of secularism, then Muslims would need to wear tikha
to qualify to be secular. See how secularism wrongly defined at the start
degenerated as it was bound to.

Jawaharlal Nehru mixed his personal agnosticism with secularism and
distorted the very definition of secularism.  Normatively, Hindu leaders
publicly forsaking or privatising their own tradition came to be regarded
as symbolic of secularism.

The issue arose in a daylong seminar in Chennai in the 1980s in which many
including Arun Shourie, Cho Ramaswami, N Ram and also I participated, when
Mani Shankar Aiyar in his characteristic style cited not wearing the sacred
thread of a Brahmin and eating beef as symbolic demonstration of his
secular credentials.

Immediately, the question arose whether only Muslims shaving off their
beard and eating pork would be symbolic of their secular credentials.  But
later far from Hindus disowning their own tradition, following other’s
tradition like wearing skullcap and sipping Ramzan porridge became symbolic
of secularism—something far beyond the Nehruvian secular norms.

The agnostic Nehru would never have worn skullcaps nor eaten Ramzan
Had there been mutuality in this between Hindus and Muslims also, that
would have been meaningful.  The seculars could not persuade the Muslim
leaders to join the colourful fun of Holi for instance.

This made secularism practised in Indian politics a mockery.

That is why, in his excellent book “India’s Muslim Spring: Why is Nobody
Talking about It?” Hasan Suroor pointed out to how the current brand of
secularism is mocked by many educated Indians as ‘Sickularism’ and the
secularists as ‘Sickularists’!

Worse, thanks to the perverted secularism, gradually even national and
nationalist issues have become communal symbols.

When the BJP released its manifesto in which it had mentioned its three
distinct issues—the common civil code, Article 370 and Ram Mandir—many in
the secular media headlined “the three Hindutva issues back”.  Meaning that
these issues are Hindu religious issues and against secularism.

Now, test the distorted logic.

Take Article 370. The chapter [Chapter XXI] in which the Article figures
was originally titled as Temporary and Transitional Provisions—meaning that
the Article was temporary in nature.  Article 370 was specifically
sub-headed “Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and

This was in 1950.
Pundit Nehru told the Lok Sabha on November 23, 1963, that Art 370 would be
eroded away. All other articles from Art 371 A to 371 H in the chapter are
titled “special provisions”.   [ COMMENT : ” Samvidan ki dhara 370 Ghisthe
ghisthe ghis jayegi ” – Pandit Nehru ]  Art 370 is not. It still remains as
a temporary and transitional provision.

How come the demand that the temporary and transitional provision of Art
370 be deleted become a Hindutva issue or communal issue?  Whether it is to
be done or not is a different issue for debate.

Take common civil code. Art 44 of the Constitution says that the government
“shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout
the territory of India”.

How come the demand that the constitutional mandate of uniform civil code
should be implemented be a Hindutva issue or against secularism?   Whether
it is advisable to do it or not is a different issue to be debated.

And yet, the media clubs these two political and constitutional issues as
part of Hindutva issues and turns them against secularism.

So much for the perversion of the secular discourse.

Correcting this distortion is the greatest challenge to Indian secularism
which is founded on equal protection to all faiths.

Modi’s symbolism seems to have revived the debate which Advani started and
which got suspended since 1998.   Will he continue the debate and restore
the real meaning to secularism?


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